TRITHEN, Franz Heinrich

TRITHEN, Franz Heinrich. St.Stephan, Simmental, canton Bern 1820 (bapt. 4.2.) — 1854. Swiss Indologist. He grew up in Russia, studied in Germany and worked in England, but remained Swiss citizen all his life. While Windisch and Mehlitz call him Franz, Wackernagel has Friedrich. His father, Franz Emanuel Tritten (sic) soon accepted a post of teacher in Odessa, where he also became Swiss Consul. The son matriculated in 1837 from Lycée Richelieu and studied in 1838-39 at Berlin under Bopp, Boeckh, Lachmann, etc., apparently also visited Bonn. Befriended with Petrov. In 1840 he came to London and in 1841 to Oxford, where he taught modern lan­guages at Rugby. For a while tutor in the family of Russian Minister of War in Constantinople and Cairo. In 1844-48 worked in British Museum, then Professor of Modern European Languages at Oxford. He retired because of an illness (variously called epilepsy or a mental illness) in 1851 and returned to his parents in Odessa, at Oxford he was succeeded by Max Müller.

FT was a linguist who knew many languages: Russian, Polish, German, English, French, Italian, Modern Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. In 1846 he planned an edition of the RV with Roth and Rieu, but it came to nothing and was then realized by Max Müller. In Oxford he collated a SV manuscript for Benfey. His MVC was an editio princeps on basis of three manuscripts, the second part (variants and tr.) never appeared. He was wise enough not to correct Prakrit according to Vararuci’s rules. He was much interested in music and played violin.

Publications: edited: The Mahavira Charita, or the history of Râma, a sanscrit play by Bhatta Bhavabhûti. 4+138 p. L. 1848.

articles on Indian subjects in Penny Cyclopaedia.

– “On the position occupied by the Slavonic Dialects among the other Languages of the Indo-European Family”, Tr. Philol. Soc. 4, 1848, 225-232 & 5, 7-12 (unfinished).

Sources: O. Mehlitz, ZII 10:3, 1936, 277-287 (from Russian sources); *Petrov, Russkij Vestnik 1, 1856, 156f.; J. Wackernagel, ZII 8, 1931, 140f.; Windisch 380f.; *Biogr. Univ.


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